A cook’s arsenal consists of various types of knives. Some of the most popular choices are represented by the chef’s knife and the Santoku knife. The two achieve very similar results but are fundamentally distinct in terms of build and style. In this article, we will discuss the main differences between the two items and what they imply for a chef.
What Is a Chef’s Knife? | Also known as a cook’s knife or a French knife, the chef’s knife is an indispensable utensil for any kitchen. Its origins are credited to either Germany or France. Although it was initially designed for disjointing and slicing large cuts of beef and other dense meats, it is now a universal tool that most Western cooks use for a variety of purposes.
Besides handling various types of meat, chef knives are the go-to piece of cutlery for chopping vegetables, as well as mincing herbs and condiments finely so that they release their flavor into the dishes. Its sleek steel blade is versatile, which gives it a wide range of motion. Thus, when handled correctly, you won’t need much else besides this knife.
The average size of a chef’s knife is of 8 inches, which is what most home cooks use. However, models range from 6 to 14 inches, and the 10-inch ones are the ones most often used by professional chefs. If you want to find out more about how to choose the right chef’s knife for you, give this guide a read before purchasing the item.
What is a Santoku Knife? | The Santoku knife is the Japanese take on the chef’s knife. In the country’s language, it is referred to as the Santoku bōchō or the Bunka bōchō, which means “three virtues” or “three uses”. These three uses of the item are the thin blade’s ability to dice, slice, and mince. This makes it the perfect all-purpose piece of cutlery that any cook can enjoy.
The Santoku knife can be recognized by the scalloped edge of the blade, known as a Granton edge. The purpose of the design is to let air flow between the knife and the food that is being carved, creating smooth movement. This is why chopping anything with a Santoku knife feels like cutting through butter.
The blade averages on 5 to 7 inches in length, which means that it can also handle higher precision jobs. It is generally constructed using stainless steel, thus making it durable and sleek. Due to its delicate build, it is the ideal utensil for beginner chefs that are intimidated by bulkier tools such as cleavers.
The Main Differences | As outlined by the two descriptions above, chef’s knives and Santoku knives have similar uses. They are both versatile tools that can be used to perform a wide variety of kitchen jobs, such as cutting, slicing, mincing, dicing, and chopping. What is more, their design allows for different levels of delicacy while doing any of these.
Nevertheless, there are a few notable differences between a chef’s knife and a Santoku knife. First of all, the former is larger in size than the latter, especially when it comes to the blade. In addition to this, the two are angled differently. While a chef’s knife has a 20 to 22-degree angle, the Santoku a smaller inclination of just 12 to 15 degrees.
The geometry of the blade is also different, as the Japanese take on the traditional all-purpose knife for cooks has a straighter cutting edge, as well as a sheep’s foot tip. This means that its spine turns down towards the end, which is different from the chef’s knife’s pointed edge and curved blade. This creates two different cutting styles.
If you’re familiar with the repetitive and abrupt “chop chop chop” motions that celebrity TV chefs perform, you are most likely looking at a Santoku knife. Due to the straight edge of the blade, this piece of cutlery is a lot more visceral. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the curve of the chef’s knife makes it almost roll off the cutting board in a silky manner.
Thus, choosing between one or the other simply means deciding which style you prefer. Are you a mellifluous chef or an abrasive one? Do you prefer the raw force of the knife hitting against the cutting board, or do you want your tools to feel like they’re floating on air? Depending on what your answers are, you will know what the right knife for you is.
Final Thoughts | If you are after a classic tool that will get just about any kitchen work done smoothly, the chef’s knife is the perfect choice. However, for the visceral chef that wants a more delicate and precise blade that hits the cutting board with more raw force, the Santoku is the way to go. So, which one is your favorite?